The heat puts extra stress on your body. For every degree the body’s internal temp rises, the heart beats approx 10 beats per minute faster. Not being prepared for the summer heat can lead to serious health problems like heat exhaustion. But that doesn’t mean you have to hang the gym shoes up for the summer. Follow these tips to stay fit and weather the weather during the dog days of summer.
Hydration is Key
We all know drinking plenty of water is necessary to stay hydrated. But how much, and when? It is easy to forget, but hydration begins days before an exercise event, so be drinking water throughout the day. 20 ounces of water two hours before exercise, as well as 8 ounces shortly before getting into the heat, is recommended. Once in the heat, gulping water every 15 to 20 minutes is an excellent practice. It is also a good idea to talk to a doctor about specific fluid intake when you exercise.
Sports drinks look fun and taste good, but they also tend to have lots of added junk, like sugar and carbs. You know what doesn’t have extra junk in it? Fruit! Consider adding fruits and veggies into your rehydrating routine. Juicy snacks like berries and melons make excellent snacks throughout the day to keep your energy up. Now if you just need that sports drink flavor in your life, make sure it contains plenty of electrolytes and little to no sugar.
Make Realistic Goals
Hydration is the first step to safely exercising, but you still have to be vigilant while being active in the heat. If you experience light-headedness, dizziness, dry throat, nausea or other extreme discomforts, you absolutely must stop your exercise and cool your body down. Heat exhaustion is a serious step back to your health and in worst cases can lead to heatstroke. We are talking about a potentially deadly situation.
The best way to prepare yourself for exercising in the heat (other than hydrating!) is to break yourself in slowly. If your body is not acclimated to the heat yet, then go for a walk instead of a run on your first outing or two. When possible, keep to the shade. Planning ahead is also necessary when handling the heat. Check the heat index and humidity! You would check the weather in deciding whether to bring an umbrella to work, right? On days when the heat is intense, be prepared to take it slower and easier. You don’t need to make a personal mile record when it’s 90 outside.
Alter Your Summer Wardrobe and Routine
Your daily outfits change with the seasons, and your exercise wardrobe should as well. Wear light-weight, breathable clothing when out in high temperatures. Wearing light colors will also help reflect the sun. Keep in mind that covering up working muscles such as your legs generates unnecessary heat. Also, take care of your skin by wearing sunscreen. A well-ventilated hat with a brim and lightweight sunglasses can also help prevent headaches.
Extreme temperatures call for more planning. Just like hydration, which begins several days before exercise, looking at the weather several days out will help you plan your work-outs. Some days don’t allow for perfect habits, and that’s ok. If your previous day wasn’t optimal for taking care of your body, it may be a good reason to dial back a workout considerably. It can be tempting to get outside for that lovely vitamin D, but don’t neglect the benefit of the gym. Staying indoors, where there is plenty of hydration and no humidity, can be a very wise choice on warm days.
Exercising is extremely important for a healthy lifestyle, but you don’t have to go whole hog every day. Keep in mind that a 20-minute workout also has its health benefits, too. Stay flexible enough with your schedule so that you can adjust your workouts for the weather. Consider treating yourself with some breathable and fashionable workout gear. Follow these tips and you can beat the heat while enjoying the sunny weather at the same time.